By Mark Elezaj
Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KO’s) was able to overcome a scare late in the eighth round Saturday night, to successfully defend his WBO 175 pound championship, by knocking out a tough Anthony Yarde (18-1, 17 KO’s) with a jab in front of a home crowd at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Kovalev’s experience showed, as he controlled most of the bout, fighting off of the jab and landing combinations in spots.
Yarde, who stood his ground and showed the heart of a lion, traded jabs with Kovalev in the eighth round.
Yarde began to rally late, applying pressure and attacking Kovalev to the body.
Kovalev was hurt and it showed.
As the action continued, referee Luis Pabon looked on closely as Yarde was about to pull off the upset and knock Kovalev out.
Kovalev survived the round and went to his corner.
Kovalev’s trainer James “Buddy” McGirt, warned his fighter that he was going to stop the fight if he continued to take unnecessary punishment.
“You’ve got to show me something this round or I’m stopping the fight,” he said as they worked on Kovalev in the corner.
As the fight continued, Yarde, who was already showing signs of fatigue, looked to have punched himself out.
Kovalev, who somehow survived the attack in the eighth round, continued to break down Yarde, working off of his jab and keeping Yarde at a distance in the ninth.
In the tenth round, Kovalev was head hunting and landing with ease. Yarde, who was not able to respond, looked to be out on his feet, while Kovalev started to set him up for the knockout in the eleventh round.
Kovalev dropped a battered and tired Yarde with a jab at 1:06 of the 11th round.
Yarde fell flat on his back, and was unable to get back to his feet while and referee Luis Pabon counted him out at 2:04 of the 11th round.
Kovalev was up on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage, Panama’s Julio Cesar Alvarado (97-94), Hungary’s Zoltan Enyedi (96-93) and South Africa’s Deon Dwarte (98-92).
According to CompuBox, Kovalev landed 223 of 686 punches, including 115 of 404 jabs. Yarde connected with 132 of 575 punches.
“I didn’t expect an easy fight,” Kovalev said. “There was nothing that shocked me. I expected it to be a long fight and I am really surprised that I stopped him.”
“I am dedicating this win to Max Dadashev,” an emotional Kovalev said, referring to his late stablemate, who died July 23 from brain damage suffered during a July 19 fight. “It’s hard for me now when everyone is celebrating, and I have to think about him and dedicate this win to him.”
“He is strong, and he has an IQ with good defense and activity,” Kovalev said. “He has not enough experience. I won by experience because I’m Sergey Kovalev, the ‘Krusher.’ I can’t lose anymore. He will be a champion 100 percent.”
When asked who he wants next,
“Canelo? I will fight anybody,” Kovalev said.
“Canelo is a great fighter, and if he wants to fight I am ready. I will fight Canelo. I will fight [Dmitry] Bivol. I want the biggest fights for my career. It is my career. I have not much time left so I will fight the best fight’s I can.”
Kovalev went on to interrupt Yarde’s post-fight interview and told him, “You are a great fighter. You have a great future, believe me. You are good, you are very good.”
The previously unbeaten Yarde has nothing to be ashamed of. He fought well in spots, came into the fight as a big underdog, showed great heart, recovered from a slow start and found a way to hurt Kovalev with a series of shots during the eighth round.
“Experience played a big part,” Yarde said in his post-fight interview. “I wasn’t victorious, but I did myself justice I think.”
With the win on Saturday, Kovalev moved to 34-3-1 with 29 wins coming by way of a knockout.
~ The Fighting Voice ~